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Tivona World designer shows off true colors, culture in designs, uplifts other creators

Suzanne Gunn, founder and designer for Tivona World
Posted at 10:09 PM, Feb 03, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After four years in the fashion industry, designer and entrepreneur Suzanne Gunn still gets nervous before her shows, but she believes it makes her do better.

"I don’t think anybody would ever be a true leader if you did not have some aspect of fear in you," Gunn said.

The local business woman's custom couture line from her shop, Tivona World, was showcased on the center stage on Saturday. It was a show that not only highlighted her garments, but Black fashion through history for Black History Month.

"It is my heart and soul, my designs, and I love doing it," Gunn said.

It's her heart, soul and history that she puts into it. Gunn is a native to Kenya, and her work represents her culture and roots with bright colors and textures.

Suzanne Gunn, founder and designer for Tivona World

"When you see a lot of my friends and my family that are Black American who are wearing this, it is a representation of who they are and where they belong," Gunn said. "It’s home for them."

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Almost as important as the clothes is Gunn's willingness to to uplift other Black creators, like MJ Hurt. Not only has Gunn mentored Hurt, but she's allowed Hurt to sell her designs in Tivoana World.

"In the Black community, it’s so hard to have role models to look up to, and it’s so rare to find people that you can look at and say, 'I can be like that,'" Hurt said. "She was like that for me."

MJ Hurt, upcoming fashion designer and one of Gunn's mentee's

During a month where Black culture is in the spotlight, Gunn and her shop are an example of what it means to love what makes you, you. Especially if it means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

"No matter what race, no matter what your culture is, it is meant to be celebrated," Gunn said.